Of Lawyers

Of Lawyers

The training of lawyers

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Four to five years of tears and hard work and of falling and resurgence—these described the life of a student of law.

Law schools are replete with stories of students braving the atmosphere of intimidation and subjugation. Examinations and recitations prepare students to cope up with extreme emotional, psychological, and physical pressures by forcing them to get mature with dispatch and become ready to deal with difficult human concerns.

 

 

A lawyer is both an adviser and advocate. As such, his training gives priority to advocacy skills and deep understanding of human affairs. Law school curricula are so designed so that students will acquire theoretical and practical knowledge needed to solve legal disputes, advocate client’s cause, advise people, and uphold law and order.

The theoretical aspect of their training falls into the public and private laws columns and the substantive and procedural laws matrices. Public law includes Constitution law, administrative law, election law, international law, criminal law, human rights and similar courses. On the other hand, private law includes family law, contracts, property, succession, torts and damages, commercial laws, and conflict of laws. The substantive matrix provides concerns both public and private laws while the procedural matrix focuses on civil procedure and criminal procedure, the law of evidence and jurisdiction.

Complementing these theoretical foundations are practical skills such as legal research, writing, and counseling that students need in their future practice of law. In addition, the law program is guided by courses on legal ethics aimed at training students to become gentlemen and fine ladies of the court.

The study of cases serve a two-fold purpose. First, it teaches student about the meaning of the law as the Supreme Court interprets it. And second, it educates them about justice as the cases show them how legal principles are used by the court to resolve legal disputes and vindicate the claims of the oppressed. This implied education on justice receives varied contexts through the teacher’s inputs and questions on social, political, and moral conjunctures that affected the decisions.

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The methodology of teaching law makes the law program distinct from other academic fields. The case-based Socratic method was first introduced by Christopher Langdell in Harvard Law School in 1870. The Socratic inquiry is a lively discourse between students and the professor who quiz them orally about the cases and principles assigned for the day. Of course, the relationship between the professor and his students is asymmetrical. Most of the time, the discourse is a one way street—with students being tested everyday by the professor who is expected to draw out whatever they learn from reading the assigned.

Law students are trained to be good writers. As such, they write a lot.

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Good law schools train students to be proficient writers. They inculcate in them the value of clear, succinct, and effective writing styles. They discourage intellectual dishonesty and pomposity in written and oral discourses. They are devoted to train future advocates to be sentinels of truth and justice.

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Law graduates are expected to exhibit diligence, persistence, open mindedness, and moral uprightness when they leave the campus. As such, law schools operate like training camps that test students by fire and turn them into shining swords and shields of justice.

The persistence of lawyers

Lawyers are known to be persistent.

They say that only those who are psychologically fit will survive law school as hose who do not have what it takes to be a lawyer will either stray away or find themselves in mental institutions. Law school is like a ninja school where candidates are forced to walk on live wires and shoot arrows while falling from a tree. This may be the reason why some lawyers earn the labels “mercenaries” or “guns for hire”: they use ninja skills to collect astronomical fees or gain power for themselves like assassins portrayed in the movies.

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Persistence runs through the veins of a “Prize-fighter” advocate. He is a less calculating advocate who loves to challenge veteran practitioners. In the eyes of the less tolerant, he is born with the natural talent for annoying the rest of the world. He files motions for the sake of filing them. He moves mountains to have the last say in court. He drives points to their absurdity. He is a pain in the neck for some people, but not to his clients who see his stunts as qualities of a champion. He is my favorite hero, sometimes.

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The cool dude of the court is the “Be Calm” advocate. He personifies coolness under pressure. He does not panic even when his clients are at the point of imminent annihilation. He is a persistent fighter who rarely shows passionate burst in court. He is seen as “domesticated” by other more talkative lawyers. He rarely engages in open court debates but when he does, he always hit the jugular vein. His training in law school may have nothing to do with his disposition. He may have learned this posture from an older idol in the legal profession. He opens his mouth less but when he does so, he earns more respect than any other advocates in court. His persistence is shown in his efficient use of court and legal processes. He keeps his ideas to himself most of the time but do not mistake his silence with his ability and trial skills. In reality, he is a silent killer–a terrorist cell in the middle of the crowd.  He is also my favorite hero, sometimes.

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The cool in the outside but revolting in the inside advocate is the “Incredible Hulk” of the legal profession. He is uncanny: he looks less stable but a truly persistent advocate. You would not like him when he’s angry. He appears timid, but when pissed off, he’ll give his adversaries a knock-out punch in their in-between. He loves to use exclamation points. He does not use linking verbs or prepositions. He knows only interjections. Never mess with him. He is more driven than prize-fighters and deeply contemplated than cool dudes. He is another of my favorite hero, sometimes.

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Whatever the types, persistent advocates are trained to fight for your causes. They are trained to speak for you. They are expected to forget about their own shame just to vindicate yours. They put their names in the line and persist in spite of the absurdity of your cause. They are your best chances.

 

Human Rights Matter

Human Rights matter

There is no dispute that illegal drugs should be stopped by the full force of the law. The law cannot continue to stand still while the future is being ravished by conscienceless drug syndicates. Considering our present situation, a total war on drugs is imperative. This is the only cure to a horrifying disease that has embedded itself deeply in every corner of society today.

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Despite of this,  there are some basic principles which should not be disregarded if the Philippines is to remain a constitutional democracy. Among these basic principles are the rule of law and human rights. No constitutional government will have legitimate claim to history unless these two basic premises of democracy are upheld and protected.

The rule of law enunciates that everyone, especially those entrusted with governmental powers, should abide with the mandate and processes of the law. In general, political and administrative shortcuts are anathema to the regime of the rule of law. It is for these deviations that the law lays down the basic rules governing the exercise of public power and the conduct of official business.

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Meanwhile, human rights provide boundaries to the vast powers of the government. The government is too powerful to be left without limits. Human rights are the primary limitations to the vast powers of the government. In theory, the government may do everything it deems proper to promote the public good but in doing so, it cannot tinker with the rights of the people to be left alone, to be treated with dignity, and to participate in public matters affecting their welfare. In practice, officials and other state agents may use their powers to stop all things that maybe hurtful to the public but they cannot do this in oppressive, arbitrary, despotic, and unreasonable manner violative of the rights of the people.

With the public pronouncements of incoming administration officials that the war against drugs will be bloody, human rights lie on the precipice. The danger of the law enforcement pillar of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) becoming an executioner of private vengeance in the name of the public good is real. In the process, the police will usurp the legitimate powers of the other pillars of the CJS rendering them inutile and irrelevant.

For this reason, it is imperative that the pillars of democracy—the Church, the military, and the civil society—stand together in the defense of human rights and the rule of law. Human rights should prevail lest we all perish from cynicism and insanity of the time.

Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases

A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC

RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES

R E S O L U T I O N

Acting on the recommendation of the Chairperson of the Sub-committee on the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases submitting for this Court’s consideration and approval the proposed Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, the Court Resolved to APPROVE the same.

These Rules shall take effect within fifteen (15) days following its publication once in a newspaper of general circulation.

April 13, 2010.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
(on leave)
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice
ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice
JOSE P. PEREZ
Associate Justice
JOSE C. MENDOZA
Associate Justice

RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES

PART I

RULE 1
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Section 1. Title. — These Rules shall be known as “The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.”

Section 2. Scope. — These Rules shall govern the procedure in civil, criminal and special civil actions before the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts involving enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws, rules and regulations such as but not limited to the following:

(a) Act No. 3572, Prohibition Against Cutting of Tindalo, Akli, and Molave Trees;

(b) P.D. No. 705, Revised Forestry Code;

(c) P.D. No. 856, Sanitation Code;

(d) P.D. No. 979, Marine Pollution Decree;

(e) P.D. No. 1067, Water Code;

(f) P.D. No. 1151, Philippine Environmental Policy of 1977;

(g) P.D. No. 1433, Plant Quarantine Law of 1978;

(h) P.D. No. 1586, Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System Including Other Environmental Management Related Measures and for Other Purposes;

(i) R.A. No. 3571, Prohibition Against the Cutting, Destroying or Injuring of Planted or Growing Trees, Flowering Plants and Shrubs or Plants of Scenic Value along Public Roads, in Plazas, Parks, School Premises or in any Other Public Ground;

(j) R.A. No. 4850, Laguna Lake Development Authority Act;

(k) R.A. No. 6969, Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste Act;

(l) R.A. No. 7076, People’s Small-Scale Mining Act;

(m) R.A. No. 7586, National Integrated Protected Areas System Act including all laws, decrees, orders, proclamations and issuances establishing protected areas;

(n) R.A. No. 7611, Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act;

(o) R.A. No. 7942, Philippine Mining Act;

(p) R.A. No. 8371, Indigenous Peoples Rights Act;

(q) R.A. No. 8550, Philippine Fisheries Code;

(r) R.A. No. 8749, Clean Air Act;

(s) R.A. No. 9003, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act;

(t) R.A. No. 9072, National Caves and Cave Resource Management Act;

(u) R.A. No. 9147, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;

(v) R.A. No. 9175, Chainsaw Act;

(w) R.A. No. 9275, Clean Water Act;

(x) R.A. No. 9483, Oil Spill Compensation Act of 2007; and

(y) Provisions in C.A. No. 141, The Public Land Act; R.A. No. 6657, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988; R.A. No. 7160, Local Government Code of 1991; R.A. No. 7161, Tax Laws Incorporated in the Revised Forestry Code and Other Environmental Laws (Amending the NIRC); R.A. No. 7308, Seed Industry Development Act of 1992; R.A. No. 7900, High-Value Crops Development

Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases Act; R.A. No. 8048, Coconut Preservation Act; R.A. No. 8435, Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997; R.A. No. 9522, The Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law; R.A. No. 9593, Renewable Energy Act of 2008; R.A. No. 9637, Philippine Biofuels Act; and other existing laws that relate to the conservation, development, preservation, protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources.

Section 3. Objectives. – The objectives of these Rules are:

(a) To protect and advance the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology;

(b) To provide a simplified, speedy and inexpensive procedure for the enforcement of environmental rights and duties recognized under the Constitution, existing laws, rules and regulations, and international agreements;

(c) To introduce and adopt innovations and best practices ensuring the effective enforcement of remedies and redress for violation of environmental laws; and

(d) To enable the courts to monitor and exact compliance with orders and judgments in environmental cases.

Section 4. Definition of Terms.

(a) By-product or derivatives means any part taken or substance extracted from wildlife, in raw or in processed form including stuffed animals and herbarium specimens. 1avvphi1

(b) Consent decree refers to a judicially-approved settlement between concerned parties based on public interest and public policy to protect and preserve the environment.

(c) Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied.

(d) Environmental protection order (EPO) refers to an order issued by the court directing or enjoining any person or government agency to perform or desist from performing an act in order to protect, preserve or rehabilitate the environment.

(e) Mineral refers to all naturally occurring inorganic substance in solid, gas, liquid, or any intermediate state excluding energy materials such as coal, petroleum, natural gas, radioactive materials and geothermal energy.

(f) Precautionary principle states that when human activities may lead to threats of serious and irreversible damage to the environment that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that threat.

(g) Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) refers to an action whether civil, criminal or administrative, brought against any person, institution or any government agency or local government unit or its officials and employees, with the intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that such person, institution or government agency has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.

(h) Wildlife means wild forms and varieties of flora and fauna, in all developmental stages including those which are in captivity or are being bred or propagated.

PART II
CIVIL PROCEDURE

RULE 2
PLEADINGS AND PARTIES

Section 1. Pleadings and motions allowed. — The pleadings and motions that may be filed are complaint, answer which may include compulsory counterclaim and cross-claim, motion for intervention, motion for discovery and motion for reconsideration of the judgment.

Motion for postponement, motion for new trial and petition for relief from judgment shall be allowed in highly meritorious cases or to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice.

Section 2. Prohibited pleadings or motions. — The following pleadings or motions shall not be allowed:

(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint;

(b) Motion for a bill of particulars;

(c) Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, except to file answer, the extension not to exceed fifteen (15) days;

(d) Motion to declare the defendant in default;

(e) Reply and rejoinder; and

(f) Third party complaint.

Section 3. Verified complaint. — The verified complaint shall contain the names of the parties, their addresses, the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for.

The plaintiff shall attach to the verified complaint all evidence proving or supporting the cause of action consisting of the affidavits of witnesses, documentary evidence and if possible, object evidence. The affidavits shall be in question and answer form and shall comply with the rules of admissibility of evidence.

The complaint shall state that it is an environmental case and the law involved. The complaint shall also include a certification against forum shopping. If the complaint is not an environmental complaint, the presiding judge shall refer it to the executive judge for re-raffle.

Section 4. Who may file. — Any real party in interest, including the government and juridical entities authorized by law, may file a civil action involving the enforcement or violation of any environmental law.

Section 5. Citizen suit. — Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said order.

Citizen suits filed under R.A. No. 8749 and R.A. No. 9003 shall be governed by their respective provisions.

Section 6. Service of the complaint on the government or its agencies. – Upon the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff is required to furnish the government or the appropriate agency, although not a party, a copy of the complaint. Proof of service upon the government or the appropriate agency shall be attached to the complaint.

Section 7. Assignment by raffle. – If there is only one (1) designated branch in a multiple-sala court, the executive judge shall immediately refer the case to said branch. If there are two (2) or more designated branches, the executive judge shall conduct a special raffle on the day the complaint is filed.

Section 8. Issuance of Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO). – If it appears from the verified complaint with a prayer for the issuance of an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) that the matter is of extreme urgency and the applicant will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury, the executive judge of the multiple-sala court before raffle or the presiding judge of a single-sala court as the case may be, may issue ex parte a TEPO effective for only seventy-two (72) hours from date of the receipt of the TEPO by the party or person enjoined. Within said period, the court where the case is assigned, shall conduct a summary hearing to determine whether the TEPO may be extended until the termination of the case.

The court where the case is assigned, shall periodically monitor the existence of acts that are the subject matter of the TEPO even if issued by the executive judge, and may lift the same at any time as circumstances may warrant.

The applicant shall be exempted from the posting of a bond for the issuance of a TEPO.

Section 9. Action on motion for dissolution of TEPO. – The grounds for motion to dissolve a TEPO shall be supported by affidavits of the party or person enjoined which the applicant may oppose, also by affidavits.

The TEPO may be dissolved if it appears after hearing that its issuance or continuance would cause irreparable damage to the party or person enjoined while the applicant may be fully compensated for such damages as he may suffer and subject to the posting of a sufficient bond by the party or person enjoined.

Section 10. Prohibition against temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction. – Except the Supreme Court, no court can issue a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction against lawful actions of government agencies that enforce environmental laws or prevent violations thereof.

Section 11. Report on TEPO, EPO, TRO or preliminary injunction. – The judge shall report any action taken on a TEPO, EPO, TRO or a preliminary injunction, including its modification and dissolution, to the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, within ten (10) days from the action taken.

Section 12. Payment of filing and other legal fees. – The payment of filing and other legal fees by the plaintiff shall be deferred until after judgment unless the plaintiff is allowed to litigate as an indigent. It shall constitute a first lien on the judgment award.

For a citizen suit, the court shall defer the payment of filing and other legal fees that shall serve as first lien on the judgment award.

Section 13. Service of summons, orders and other court processes. – The summons, orders and other court processes may be served by the sheriff, his deputy or other proper court officer or for justifiable reasons, by the counsel or representative of the plaintiff or any suitable person authorized or deputized by the court issuing the summons.

Any private person who is authorized or deputized by the court to serve summons, orders and other court processes shall for that purpose be considered an officer of the court.

The summons shall be served on the defendant, together with a copy of an order informing all parties that they have fifteen (15) days from the filing of an answer, within which to avail of interrogatories to parties under Rule 25 of the Rules of Court and request for admission by adverse party under Rule 26, or at their discretion, make use of depositions under Rule 23 or other measures under Rules 27 and 28.

Should personal and substituted service fail, summons by publication shall be allowed. In the case of juridical entities, summons by publication shall be done by indicating the names of the officers or their duly authorized representatives.

Section 14. Verified answer. – Within fifteen (15) days from receipt of summons, the defendant shall file a verified answer to the complaint and serve a copy thereof on the plaintiff. The defendant shall attach affidavits of witnesses, reports, studies of experts and all evidence in support of the defense.

Affirmative and special defenses not pleaded shall be deemed waived, except lack of jurisdiction.

Cross-claims and compulsory counterclaims not asserted shall be considered barred. The answer to counterclaims or cross-claims shall be filed and served within ten (10) days from service of the answer in which they are pleaded.

Section 15. Effect of failure to answer. – Should the defendant fail to answer the complaint within the period provided, the court shall declare defendant in default and upon motion of the plaintiff, shall receive evidence ex parte and render judgment based thereon and the reliefs prayed for.

RULE 3
PRE-TRIAL

Section 1. Notice of pre-trial. – Within two (2) days from the filing of the answer to the counterclaim or cross-claim, if any, the branch clerk of court shall issue a notice of the pre-trial to be held not later than one (1) month from the filing of the last pleading.

The court shall schedule the pre-trial and set as many pre-trial conferences as may be necessary within a period of two (2) months counted from the date of the first pre-trial conference.

Section 2. Pre-trial brief. – At least three (3) days before the pretrial, the parties shall submit pre-trial briefs containing the following:

(a) A statement of their willingness to enter into an amicable settlement indicating the desired terms thereof or to submit the case to any of the alternative modes of dispute resolution;

(b) A summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulation of facts;

(c) The legal and factual issues to be tried or resolved. For each factual issue, the parties shall state all evidence to support their positions thereon. For each legal issue, parties shall state the applicable law and jurisprudence supporting their respective positions thereon;

(d) The documents or exhibits to be presented, including depositions, answers to interrogatories and answers to written request for admission by adverse party, stating the purpose thereof;

(e) A manifestation of their having availed of discovery procedures or their intention to avail themselves of referral to a commissioner or panel of experts;

(f) The number and names of the witnesses and the substance of their affidavits;

(g) Clarificatory questions from the parties; and

(h) List of cases arising out of the same facts pending before other courts or administrative agencies. Failure to comply with the required contents of a pre-trial brief may be a ground for contempt.

Failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial.

Section 3. Referral to mediation. – At the start of the pre-trial conference, the court shall inquire from the parties if they have settled the dispute; otherwise, the court shall immediately refer the parties or their counsel, if authorized by their clients, to the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC) unit for purposes of mediation. If not available, the court shall refer the case to the clerk of court or legal researcher for mediation.

Mediation must be conducted within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from receipt of notice of referral to mediation.

The mediation report must be submitted within ten (10) days from the expiration of the 30-day period.

Section 4. Preliminary conference. – If mediation fails, the court will schedule the continuance of the pre-trial. Before the scheduled date of continuance, the court may refer the case to the branch clerk of court for a preliminary conference for the following purposes:

(a) To assist the parties in reaching a settlement;

(b) To mark the documents or exhibits to be presented by the parties and copies thereof to be attached to the records after comparison with the originals;

(c) To ascertain from the parties the undisputed facts and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of the documents marked as exhibits;

(d) To require the parties to submit the depositions taken under Rule 23 of the Rules of Court, the answers to written interrogatories under Rule 25, and the answers to request for admissions by the adverse party under Rule 26;

(e) To require the production of documents or things requested by a party under Rule 27 and the results of the physical and mental examination of persons under Rule 28;

(f) To consider such other matters as may aid in its prompt disposition;

(g) To record the proceedings in the “Minutes of Preliminary Conference” to be signed by both parties or their counsels;

(h) To mark the affidavits of witnesses which shall be in question and answer form and shall constitute the direct examination of the witnesses; and

(i) To attach the minutes together with the marked exhibits before the pre-trial proper.

The parties or their counsel must submit to the branch clerk of court the names, addresses and contact numbers of the affiants.

During the preliminary conference, the branch clerk of court shall also require the parties to submit the depositions taken under Rule 23 of the Rules of Court, the answers to written interrogatories under Rule 25 and the answers to request for admissions by the adverse party under Rule 26. The branch clerk of court may also require the production of documents or things requested by a party under Rule 27 and the results of the physical and mental examination of persons under Rule 28.

Section 5. Pre-trial conference; consent decree. – The judge shall put the parties and their counsels under oath, and they shall remain under oath in all pre-trial conferences.

The judge shall exert best efforts to persuade the parties to arrive at a settlement of the dispute. The judge may issue a consent decree approving the agreement between the parties in accordance with law, morals, public order and public policy to protect the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.

Evidence not presented during the pre-trial, except newly-discovered evidence, shall be deemed waived.

Section 6. Failure to settle. – If there is no full settlement, the judge shall:

(a) Adopt the minutes of the preliminary conference as part of the pre-trial proceedings and confirm the markings of exhibits or substituted photocopies and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents;

(b) Determine if there are cases arising out of the same facts pending before other courts and order its consolidation if warranted;

(c) Determine if the pleadings are in order and if not, order the amendments if necessary;

(d) Determine if interlocutory issues are involved and resolve the same;

(e) Consider the adding or dropping of parties;

(f) Scrutinize every single allegation of the complaint, answer and other pleadings and attachments thereto, and the contents of documents and all other evidence identified and pre-marked during pre-trial in determining further admissions;

(g) Obtain admissions based on the affidavits of witnesses and evidence attached to the pleadings or submitted during pre-trial;

(h) Define and simplify the factual and legal issues arising from the pleadings and evidence. Uncontroverted issues and frivolous claims or defenses should be eliminated;

(i) Discuss the propriety of rendering a summary judgment or a judgment based on the pleadings, evidence and admissions made during pre-trial;

(j) Observe the Most Important Witness Rule in limiting the number of witnesses, determining the facts to be proved by each witness and fixing the approximate number of hours per witness;

(k) Encourage referral of the case to a trial by commissioner under Rule 32 of the Rules of Court or to a mediator or arbitrator under any of the alternative modes of dispute resolution governed by the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolution;

(l) Determine the necessity of engaging the services of a qualified expert as a friend of the court (amicus curiae); and

(m) Ask parties to agree on the specific trial dates for continuous trial, comply with the one-day examination of witness rule, adhere to the case flow chart determined by the court which shall contain the different stages of the proceedings up to the promulgation of the decision and use the time frame for each stage in setting the trial dates.

Section 7. Effect of failure to appear at pre-trial. – The court shall not dismiss the complaint, except upon repeated and unjustified failure of the plaintiff to appear. The dismissal shall be without prejudice, and the court may proceed with the counterclaim.

If the defendant fails to appear at the pre-trial, the court shall receive evidence ex parte.

Section 8. Minutes of pre-trial. – The minutes of each pre-trial conference shall contain matters taken up therein, more particularly admissions of facts and exhibits, and shall be signed by the parties and their counsel.

Section 9. Pre-trial order. – Within ten (10) days after the termination of the pre-trial, the court shall issue a pre-trial order setting forth the actions taken during the pre-trial conference, the facts stipulated, the admissions made, the evidence marked, the number of witnesses to be presented and the schedule of trial. Said order shall bind the parties, limit the trial to matters not disposed of and control the course of action during the trial.

Section 10. Efforts to settle. – The court shall endeavor to make the parties agree to compromise or settle in accordance with law at any stage of the proceedings before rendition of judgment.

RULE 4
TRIAL

Section 1. Continuous trial. – The judge shall conduct continuous trial which shall not exceed two (2) months from the date of the issuance of the pre-trial order.

Before the expiration of the two-month period, the judge may ask the Supreme Court for the extension of the trial period for justifiable cause.

Section 2. Affidavits in lieu of direct examination. – In lieu of direct examination, affidavits marked during the pre-trial shall be presented as direct examination of affiants subject to cross-

examination by the adverse party.

Section 3. One-day examination of witness rule. – The court shall strictly adhere to the rule that a witness has to be fully examined in one (1) day, subject to the court’s discretion of extending the examination for justifiable reason. After the presentation of the last witness, only oral offer of evidence shall be allowed, and the opposing party shall immediately interpose his objections. The judge shall forthwith rule on the offer of evidence in open court.

Section 4. Submission of case for decision; filing of memoranda. – After the last party has rested its case, the court shall issue an order submitting the case for decision.

The court may require the parties to submit their respective memoranda, if possible in electronic form, within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from the date the case is submitted for decision.

The court shall have a period of sixty (60) days to decide the case from the date the case is submitted for decision.

Section 5. Period to try and decide. – The court shall have a period of one (1) year from the filing of the complaint to try and decide the case. Before the expiration of the one-year period, the court may petition the Supreme Court for the extension of the period for justifiable cause.

The court shall prioritize the adjudication of environmental cases.

RULE 5
JUDGMENT AND EXECUTION

Section 1. Reliefs in a citizen suit. – If warranted, the court may grant to the plaintiff proper reliefs which shall include the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment and the payment of attorney’s fees, costs of suit and other litigation expenses. It may also require the violator to submit a program of rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, the costs of which shall be borne by the violator, or to contribute to a special trust fund for that purpose subject to the control of the court.

Section 2. Judgment not stayed by appeal. – Any judgment directing the performance of acts for the protection, preservation or rehabilitation of the environment shall be executory pending appeal unless restrained by the appellate court.

Section 3. Permanent EPO; writ of continuing mandamus. – In the judgment, the court may convert the TEPO to a permanent EPO or issue a writ of continuing mandamus directing the performance of acts which shall be effective until the judgment is fully satisfied.

The court may, by itself or through the appropriate government agency, monitor the execution of the judgment and require the party concerned to submit written reports on a quarterly basis or sooner as may be necessary, detailing the progress of the execution and satisfaction of the judgment. The other party may, at its option, submit its comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.

Section 4. Monitoring of compliance with judgment and orders of the court by a commissioner. – The court may motu proprio, or upon motion of the prevailing party, order that the enforcement of the judgment or order be referred to a commissioner to be appointed by the court. The commissioner shall file with the court written progress reports on a quarterly basis or more frequently when necessary.

Section 5. Return of writ of execution. – The process of execution shall terminate upon a sufficient showing that the decision or order has been implemented to the satisfaction of the court in accordance with Section 14, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

RULE 6
STRATEGIC LAWSUIT AGAINST PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Section 1. Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). – A legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights shall be treated as a SLAPP and shall be governed by these Rules.

Section 2. SLAPP as a defense; how alleged. – In a SLAPP filed against a person involved in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment, or assertion of environmental rights, the defendant may file an answer interposing as a defense that the case is a SLAPP and shall be supported by documents, affidavits, papers and other evidence; and, by way of counterclaim, pray for damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit.

The court shall direct the plaintiff or adverse party to file an opposition showing the suit is not a SLAPP, attaching evidence in support thereof, within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from receipt of notice that an answer has been filed.

The defense of a SLAPP shall be set for hearing by the court after issuance of the order to file an opposition within fifteen (15) days from filing of the comment or the lapse of the period.

Section 3. Summary hearing. – The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his act for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP and is a valid claim.

Section 4. Resolution of the defense of a SLAPP. – The affirmative defense of a SLAPP shall be resolved within thirty (30) days after the summary hearing. If the court dismisses the action, the court may award damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit under a counterclaim if such has been filed. The dismissal shall be with prejudice.

If the court rejects the defense of a SLAPP, the evidence adduced during the summary hearing shall be treated as evidence of the parties on the merits of the case. The action shall proceed in accordance with the Rules of Court.

PART III
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS

RULE 7
WRIT OF KALIKASAN

Section 1. Nature of the writ. – The writ is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

Section 2. Contents of the petition. – The verified petition shall contain the following:

(a) The personal circumstances of the petitioner;

(b) The name and personal circumstances of the respondent or if the name and personal circumstances are unknown and uncertain, the respondent may be described by an assumed appellation;

(c) The environmental law, rule or regulation violated or threatened to be violated, the act or omission complained of, and the environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

(d) All relevant and material evidence consisting of the affidavits of witnesses, documentary evidence, scientific or other expert studies, and if possible, object evidence;

(e) The certification of petitioner under oath that: (1) petitioner has not commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency, and no such other action or claim is pending therein; (2) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of its present status; (3) if petitioner should learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, petitioner shall report to the court that fact within five (5) days therefrom; and

(f) The reliefs prayed for which may include a prayer for the issuance of a TEPO.

Section 3. Where to file. – The petition shall be filed with the Supreme Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals.

Section 4. No docket fees. – The petitioner shall be exempt from the payment of docket

fees.

Section 5. Issuance of the writ. – Within three (3) days from the date of filing of the petition, if the petition is sufficient in form and substance, the court shall give an order: (a) issuing the writ; and (b) requiring the respondent to file a verified return as provided in Section 8 of this Rule. The clerk of court shall forthwith issue the writ under the seal of the court including the issuance of a cease and desist order and other temporary reliefs effective until further order.

Section 6. How the writ is served. – The writ shall be served upon the respondent by a court officer or any person deputized by the court, who shall retain a copy on which to make a return of service. In case the writ cannot be served personally, the rule on substituted service shall apply.

Section 7. Penalty for refusing to issue or serve the writ. – A clerk of court who unduly delays or refuses to issue the writ after its allowance or a court officer or deputized person who unduly delays or refuses to serve the same shall be punished by the court for contempt without prejudice to other civil, criminal or administrative actions.

Section 8. Return of respondent; contents. – Within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days after service of the writ, the respondent shall file a verified return which shall contain all defenses to show that respondent did not violate or threaten to violate, or allow the violation of any environmental law, rule or regulation or commit any act resulting to environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

All defenses not raised in the return shall be deemed waived.

The return shall include affidavits of witnesses, documentary evidence, scientific or other expert studies, and if possible, object evidence, in support of the defense of the respondent.

A general denial of allegations in the petition shall be considered as an admission thereof.

Section 9. Prohibited pleadings and motions. – The following pleadings and motions are prohibited:

(a) Motion to dismiss;

(b) Motion for extension of time to file return;

(c) Motion for postponement;

(d) Motion for a bill of particulars;

(e) Counterclaim or cross-claim;

(f) Third-party complaint;

(g) Reply; and

(h) Motion to declare respondent in default.

Section 10. Effect of failure to file return. – In case the respondent fails to file a return, the court shall proceed to hear the petition ex parte.

Section 11. Hearing. – Upon receipt of the return of the respondent, the court may call a preliminary conference to simplify the issues, determine the possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions from the parties, and set the petition for hearing.

The hearing including the preliminary conference shall not extend beyond sixty (60) days and shall be given the same priority as petitions for the writs of habeas corpus, amparo and habeas data.

Section 12. Discovery Measures. – A party may file a verified motion for the following reliefs:

(a) Ocular Inspection; order — The motion must show that an ocular inspection order is necessary to establish the magnitude of the violation or the threat as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. It shall state in detail the place or places to be inspected. It shall be supported by affidavits of witnesses having personal knowledge of the violation or threatened violation of environmental law.

After hearing, the court may order any person in possession or control of a designated land or other property to permit entry for the purpose of inspecting or

photographing the property or any relevant object or operation thereon.

The order shall specify the person or persons authorized to make the inspection and the date, time, place and manner of making the inspection and may prescribe other conditions to protect the constitutional rights of all parties.

(b) Production or inspection of documents or things; order – The motion must show that a production order is necessary to establish the magnitude of the violation or the threat as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

After hearing, the court may order any person in possession, custody or control of any designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, or objects in digitized or electronic form, which constitute or contain evidence relevant to the petition or the return, to produce and permit their inspection, copying or photographing by or on behalf of the movant.

The production order shall specify the person or persons authorized to make the production and the date, time, place and manner of making the inspection or production and may prescribe other conditions to protect the constitutional rights of all parties.

Section 13. Contempt. – The court may after hearing punish the respondent who refuses or unduly delays the filing of a return, or who makes a false return, or any person who disobeys or resists a lawful process or order of the court for indirect contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.

Section 14. Submission of case for decision; filing of memoranda. – After hearing, the court shall issue an order submitting the case for decision. The court may require the filing of memoranda and if possible, in its electronic form, within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from the date the petition is submitted for decision.

Section 15. Judgment. – Within sixty (60) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision, the court shall render judgment granting or denying the privilege of the writ of kalikasan.

The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:

(a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the performance of a duty in violation of environmental laws resulting in environmental destruction or damage;

(b) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;

(c) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, private person or entity to monitor strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;

(d) Directing the respondent public official, government agency, or private person or entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and

(e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the

environment, except the award of damages to individual petitioners.

Section 16. Appeal. – Within fifteen (15) days from the date of notice of the adverse judgment or denial of motion for reconsideration, any party may appeal to the Supreme Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The appeal may raise questions of fact.

Section 17. Institution of separate actions. – The filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ of kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions.

RULE 8
WRIT OF CONTINUING MANDAMUS

Section 1. Petition for continuing mandamus. – When any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station in connection with the enforcement or violation of an environmental law rule or regulation or a right therein, or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of such right and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty, attaching thereto supporting evidence, specifying that the petition concerns an environmental law, rule or regulation, and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to do an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied, and to pay damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the malicious neglect to perform the duties of the respondent, under the law, rules or regulations. The petition shall also contain a sworn certification of non-forum shopping.

Section 2. Where to file the petition. – The petition shall be filed with the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territory where the actionable neglect or omission occurred or with the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

Section 3. No docket fees. – The petitioner shall be exempt from the payment of docket fees.

Section 4. Order to comment. – If the petition is sufficient in form and substance, the court shall issue the writ and require the respondent to comment on the petition within ten (10) days from receipt of a copy thereof. Such order shall be served on the respondents in such manner as the court may direct, together with a copy of the petition and any annexes thereto.

Section 5. Expediting proceedings; TEPO. – The court in which the petition is filed may issue such orders to expedite the proceedings, and it may also grant a TEPO for the preservation of the rights of the parties pending such proceedings.

Section 6. Proceedings after comment is filed. – After the comment is filed or the time for the filing thereof has expired, the court may hear the case which shall be summary in nature or require the parties to submit memoranda. The petition shall be resolved without delay within sixty (60) days from the date of the submission of the petition for resolution.

Section 7. Judgment. – If warranted, the court shall grant the privilege of the writ of continuing mandamus requiring respondent to perform an act or series of acts until the judgment is fully satisfied and to grant such other reliefs as may be warranted resulting from the wrongful or illegal acts of the respondent. The court shall require the respondent to submit periodic reports detailing the progress and execution of the judgment, and the court may, by itself or through a commissioner or the appropriate government agency, evaluate and monitor compliance. The petitioner may submit its comments or observations on the execution of the judgment.

Section 8. Return of the writ. – The periodic reports submitted by the respondent detailing compliance with the judgment shall be contained in partial returns of the writ.

Upon full satisfaction of the judgment, a final return of the writ shall be made to the court by the respondent. If the court finds that the judgment has been fully implemented, the satisfaction of judgment shall be entered in the court docket.

PART IV
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

RULE 9
PROSECUTION OF OFFENSES

Section 1. Who may file. – Any offended party, peace officer or any public officer charged with the enforcement of an environmental law may file a complaint before the proper officer in accordance with the Rules of Court.

Section 2. Filing of the information. – An information, charging a person with a violation of an environmental law and subscribed by the prosecutor, shall be filed with the court.

Section 3. Special prosecutor. – In criminal cases, where there is no private offended party, a counsel whose services are offered by any person or organization may be allowed by the court as special prosecutor, with the consent of and subject to the control and supervision of the public prosecutor.

RULE 10
PROSECUTION OF CIVIL ACTIONS

Section 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. – When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged, shall be deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the complainant waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.

Unless the civil action has been instituted prior to the criminal action, the reservation of the right to institute separately the civil action shall be made during arraignment.

In case civil liability is imposed or damages are awarded, the filing and other legal fees shall be imposed on said award in accordance with Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, and the fees shall constitute a first lien on the judgment award. The damages awarded in cases where there is no private offended party, less the filing fees, shall accrue to the funds of the agency charged with the implementation of the environmental law violated. The award shall be used for the restoration and rehabilitation of the environment adversely affected.

RULE 11
ARREST

Section 1. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or an individual deputized by the proper government agency may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit an offense; or

(b) When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it. Individuals deputized by the proper government agency who are enforcing environmental laws shall enjoy the presumption of regularity under Section 3(m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court when effecting arrests for violations of environmental laws.

Section 2. Warrant of arrest. – All warrants of arrest issued by the court shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of the information filed with the issuing court.

RULE 12
CUSTODY AND DISPOSITION OF SEIZED ITEMS, EQUIPMENT,
PARAPHERNALIA, CONVEYANCES AND INSTRUMENTS

Section 1. Custody and disposition of seized items. – The custody and disposition of seized items shall be in accordance with the applicable laws or rules promulgated by the concerned government agency.

Section 2. Procedure. – In the absence of applicable laws or rules promulgated by the concerned government agency, the following procedure shall be observed:

(a) The apprehending officer having initial custody and control of the seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, conveyances and instruments shall physically inventory and whenever practicable, photograph the same in the presence of the person from whom such items were seized.

(b) Thereafter, the apprehending officer shall submit to the issuing court the return of the search warrant within five (5) days from date of seizure or in case of warrantless arrest, submit within five (5) days from date of seizure, the inventory report, compliance report, photographs, representative samples and other pertinent documents to the public prosecutor for appropriate action.

(c) Upon motion by any interested party, the court may direct the auction sale of seized items, equipment, paraphernalia, tools or instruments of the crime. The court shall, after hearing, fix the minimum bid price based on the recommendation of the concerned government agency. The sheriff shall conduct the auction.

(d) The auction sale shall be with notice to the accused, the person from whom the items were seized, or the owner thereof and the concerned government agency.

(e) The notice of auction shall be posted in three conspicuous places in the city or municipality where the items, equipment, paraphernalia, tools or instruments of the crime were seized.

(f) The proceeds shall be held in trust and deposited with the government depository bank for disposition according to the judgment.

RULE 13
PROVISIONAL REMEDIES

Section 1. Attachment in environmental cases. – The provisional remedy of attachment under Rule 127 of the Rules of Court may be availed of in environmental cases.

Section 2. Environmental Protection Order (EPO); Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) in criminal cases. – The procedure for and issuance of EPO and TEPO shall be governed by Rule 2 of these Rules.

RULE 14
BAIL

Section 1. Bail, where filed. – Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the court where the case is pending, or in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with any regional trial judge, metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge in the province, city or municipality. If the accused is arrested in a province, city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may also be filed with any Regional Trial Court of said place, or if no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein. If the court grants bail, the court may issue a hold-departure order in appropriate cases.

Section 2. Duties of the court. – Before granting the application for bail, the judge must read the information in a language known to and understood by the accused and require the accused to sign a written undertaking, as follows:

(a) To appear before the court that issued the warrant of arrest for arraignment purposes on the date scheduled, and if the accused fails to appear without justification on the date of arraignment, accused waives the reading of the information and authorizes the court to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused and to set the case for trial;

(b) To appear whenever required by the court where the case is pending; and

(c) To waive the right of the accused to be present at the trial, and upon failure of the accused to appear without justification and despite due notice, the trial may proceed in absentia.

RULE 15
ARRAIGNMENT AND PLEA

Section 1. Arraignment. – The court shall set the arraignment of the accused within fifteen (15) days from the time it acquires jurisdiction over the accused, with notice to the public prosecutor and offended party or concerned government agency that it will entertain plea-bargaining on the date of the arraignment.

Section 2. Plea-bargaining. – On the scheduled date of arraignment, the court shall consider plea-bargaining arrangements. Where the prosecution and offended party or concerned government agency agree to the plea offered by the accused, the court shall:

(a) Issue an order which contains the plea-bargaining arrived at;

(b) Proceed to receive evidence on the civil aspect of the case, if any; and

(c) Render and promulgate judgment of conviction, including the civil liability for damages.

RULE 16
PRE-TRIAL

Section 1. Setting of pre-trial conference. – After the arraignment, the court shall set the pre-trial conference within thirty (30) days. It may refer the case to the branch clerk of court, if warranted, for a preliminary conference to be set at least three (3) days prior to the pre-trial.

Section 2. Preliminary conference. – The preliminary conference shall be for the following purposes:

(a) To assist the parties in reaching a settlement of the civil aspect of the case;

(b) To mark the documents to be presented as exhibits;

(c) To attach copies thereof to the records after comparison with the originals;

(d) To ascertain from the parties the undisputed facts and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents marked as exhibits;

(e) To consider such other matters as may aid in the prompt disposition of the case;

(f) To record the proceedings during the preliminary conference in the Minutes of Preliminary Conference to be signed by the parties and counsel;

(g) To mark the affidavits of witnesses which shall be in question and answer form and shall constitute the direct examination of the witnesses; and

(h) To attach the Minutes and marked exhibits to the case record before the pre-trial proper. The parties or their counsel must submit to the branch clerk of court the names, addresses and contact numbers of the affiants.

Section 3. Pre-trial duty of the judge. – During the pre-trial, the court shall:

(a) Place the parties and their counsels under oath;

(b) Adopt the minutes of the preliminary conference as part of the pre-trial proceedings, confirm markings of exhibits or substituted photocopies and admissions on the genuineness and due execution of documents, and list object and testimonial evidence;

(c) Scrutinize the information and the statements in the affidavits and other documents which form part of the record of the preliminary investigation together with other documents identified and marked as exhibits to determine further admissions of facts as to:

i. The court’s territorial jurisdiction relative to the offense(s) charged;

ii. Qualification of expert witnesses; and

iii. Amount of damages;

(d) Define factual and legal issues;

(e) Ask parties to agree on the specific trial dates and adhere to the flow chart determined by the court which shall contain the time frames for the different stages of the proceeding up to promulgation of decision;

(f) Require the parties to submit to the branch clerk of court the names, addresses and contact numbers of witnesses that need to be summoned by subpoena; and

(g) Consider modification of order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense.

Section 4. Manner of questioning. – All questions or statements must be directed to the court.

Section 5. Agreements or admissions. – All agreements or admissions made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in writing and signed by the accused and counsel; otherwise, they cannot be used against the accused. The agreements covering the matters referred to in Section 1, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court shall be approved by the court.

Section 6. Record of proceedings. – All proceedings during the pre-trial shall be recorded, the transcripts prepared and the minutes signed by the parties or their counsels.

Section 7. Pre-trial order. – The court shall issue a pre-trial order within ten (10) days after the termination of the pre-trial, setting forth the actions taken during the pre-trial conference, the facts stipulated, the admissions made, evidence marked, the number of witnesses to be presented and the schedule of trial. The order shall bind the parties and control the course of action during the trial.

RULE 17
TRIAL

Section 1. Continuous trial. – The court shall endeavor to conduct continuous trial which shall not exceed three (3) months from the date of the issuance of the pre-trial order.

Section 2. Affidavit in lieu of direct examination. – Affidavit in lieu of direct examination shall be used, subject to cross-examination and the right to object to inadmissible portions of the affidavit.

Section 3. Submission of memoranda. – The court may require the parties to submit their respective memoranda and if possible, in electronic form, within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from the date the case is submitted for decision.

With or without any memoranda filed, the court shall have a period of sixty (60) days to decide the case counted from the last day of the 30-day period to file the memoranda.

Section 4. Disposition period. – The court shall dispose the case within a period of ten (10) months from the date of arraignment.

Section 5. Pro bono lawyers. – If the accused cannot afford the services of counsel or there is no available public attorney, the court shall require the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to provide pro bono lawyers for the accused.

RULE 18
SUBSIDIARY LIABILITY

Section 1. Subsidiary liability. – In case of conviction of the accused and subsidiary liability is allowed by law, the court may, by motion of the person entitled to recover under judgment, enforce such subsidiary liability against a person or corporation subsidiary liable under Article 102 and Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code.

RULE 19
STRATEGIC LAWSUIT AGAINST PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN CRIMINAL CASES

Section 1. Motion to dismiss. – Upon the filing of an information in court and before arraignment, the accused may file a motion to dismiss on the ground that the criminal action is a SLAPP.

Section 2. Summary hearing. – The hearing on the defense of a SLAPP shall be summary in nature. The parties must submit all the available evidence in support of their respective positions. The party seeking the dismissal of the case must prove by substantial evidence that his acts for the enforcement of environmental law is a legitimate action for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of the environment. The party filing the action assailed as a SLAPP shall prove by preponderance of evidence that the action is not a SLAPP.

Section 3. Resolution. – The court shall grant the motion if the accused establishes in the summary hearing that the criminal case has been filed with intent to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.

If the court denies the motion, the court shall immediately proceed with the arraignment of the accused.

PART V
EVIDENCE

RULE 20
PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

Section 1. Applicability. – When there is a lack of full scientific certainty in establishing a causal link between human activity and environmental effect, the court shall apply the precautionary principle in resolving the case before it.

The constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology shall be given the benefit of the doubt.

Section 2. Standards for application. – In applying the precautionary principle, the following factors, among others, may be considered: (1) threats to human life or health; (2) inequity to present or future generations; or (3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected.

RULE 21
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Section 1. Photographic, video and similar evidence. – Photographs, videos and similar evidence of events, acts, transactions of wildlife, wildlife by-products or derivatives, forest products or mineral resources subject of a case shall be admissible when authenticated by the person who took the same, by some other person present when said evidence was taken, or by any other person competent to testify on the accuracy thereof.

Section 2. Entries in official records. – Entries in official records made in the performance of his duty by a public officer of the Philippines, or by a person in performance of a duty specially enjoined by law, are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated.

RULE 22
FINAL PROVISIONS

Section 1. Effectivity. – These Rules shall take effect within fifteen (15) days following publication once in a newspaper of general circulation.

Section 2. Application of the Rules of Court. – The Rules of Court shall apply in a suppletory manner, except as otherwise provided herein.

SUB-COMMITTEE ON
THE RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CASES

Chairperson
CHIEF JUSTICE REYNATO S. PUNO

Members

JUSTICE PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

JUSTICE DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

JUSTICE LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

JUSTICE MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ (RET.)

COMMISSIONER MARY ANN LUCILLE L. SERING

JUDGE MYRNA LIM-VERANO

ATTY. ASIS G. PEREZ

Secretary
ATTY. ABEGAIL T. SZE

Asst. Secretary
ATTY. FERMIN NESTOR A. GADRINAB

Secretariat
ATTY. MARIA CAMILLE G. LANTION

JAMES CHRISTIAN A. BITANGA, ESQ.

MS. LIDA A. PILAPIL

MS. CLARITA T. ESCARDA

Resident Mammals v. Reyes

G.R. No. 180771               April 21, 2015

RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED SEASCAPE TAÑON STRAIT, e.g., TOOTHED WHALES, DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Joined in and Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, In Their Capacity as Legal Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as Responsible Stewards of God’s Creations, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR Regional Director-Region VII and in his capacity as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM J. SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR Regional Director for Region VII ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC. Respondents.

x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

G.R. No. 181527

CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER (FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL, RAMON YANONG, FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as representatives of the SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND PINAMUNGAJAN, CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners,
vs.
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity as DENR Regional Director-Region VII and as Chairperson of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, ALAN ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director – Environmental Management Bureau-Region VII, DOE Regional Director for Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC., Respondents.

CONCURRING OPINION

“Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one ‘s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France

LEONEN, J.:

I concur in the result, with the following additional reasons.

I

In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly bring their case in their personal capacity, alleging that they stand to benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues. The human petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity “as legal guardians of the lesser life-forms and as responsible stewards of God’s Creations.”1 They use Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.2 as basis for their claim, asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental laws enacted for their benefit under the concept of stipulation pour autrui.3 As the representatives of Resident Marine Mammals, the human petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build awareness among the affected residents of Tañon Strait as well as to protect the environment, especially in light of the government’s failure, as primary steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of public trust.4

Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that through this case, this court will have the opportunity to lower the threshold for locus standi as an exercise of “epistolary jurisdiction.”5

The zeal of the human petitioners to pursue their desire to protect the environment and to continue to define environmental rights in the context of actual cases is commendable. However, the space for legal creativity usually required for advocacy of issues of the public interest is not so unlimited that it should be allowed to undermine the other values protected by current substantive and procedural laws. Even rules of procedure as currently formulated set the balance between competing interests. We cannot abandon these rules when the necessity is not clearly and convincingly presented.

The human petitioners, in G.R. No. 180771, want us to create substantive and procedural rights for animals through their allegation that they can speak for them. Obviously, we are asked to accept the premises that (a) they were chosen by the Resident Marine Mammals of Tañon Strait; (b) they were chosen by a representative group of all the species of the Resident Marine Mammals; (c) they were able to communicate with them; and (d) they received clear consent from their animal principals that they would wish to use human legal institutions to pursue their interests. Alternatively, they ask us to acknowledge through judicial notice that the interests that they, the human petitioners, assert are identical to what the Resident Marine Mammals would assert had they been humans and the legal strategies that they invoked are the strategies that they agree with.

In the alternative, they want us to accept through judicial notice that there is a relationship of guardianship between them and all the resident mammals in the affected ecology.

Fundamental judicial doctrines that may significantly change substantive and procedural law cannot be founded on feigned representation.

Instead, I agree that the human petitioners should only speak for themselves and already have legal standing to sue with respect to the issue raised in their pleading. The rules on standing have already been liberalized to take into consideration the difficulties in the assertion of environmental rights. When standing becomes too liberal, this can be the occasion for abuse.

II

Rule 3, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in part, provides:

SECTION 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. – Only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.

The Rules provide that parties may only be natural or juridical persons or entities that may be authorized by statute to be parties in a civil action.

Basic is the concept of natural and juridical persons in our Civil Code:

ARTICLE 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in every natural person and is lost only through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with legal effect, is acquired and may be lost.

Article 40 further defines natural persons in the following manner:

ARTICLE 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child shall be considered born for all purposes that are favorable to it, provided it be born later with the conditions specified ‘in the following article.

Article 44, on the other hand, enumerates the concept of a juridical person:

ARTICLE 44. The following are juridical persons:

(1) The State and its political subdivisions;

(2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or purpose, created by law; their personality begins as soon as they have been constituted according to law;

(3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or purpose to which the law grants a juridical personality, separate and distinct from that of each shareholder, partner or member.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 implicitly suggest that we amend, rather than simply construe, the provisions of the Rules of Court as well as substantive law to accommodate Resident Marine Mammals or animals. This we cannot do.

Rule 3, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure further defines real party in interest:

SEC. 2. Parties in interest.-A real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. (2a)6

A litigant who stands to benefit or sustain an injury from the judgment of a case is a real party in interest.7 When a case is brought to the courts, the real party in interest must show that another party’s act or omission has caused a direct injury, making his or her interest both material and based on an enforceable legal right.8

Representatives as parties, on the other hand, are parties acting in representation of the real party in interest, as defined in Rule 3, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. – Where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of an express rust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal.(3a)9

The rule is two-pronged. First, it defines .a representative as a party who is not bound to directly or actually benefit or suffer from the judgment, but instead brings a case in favor of an identified real party in interest.10 The representative is an outsider to the cause of action. Second, the rule provides a list of who may be considered as “representatives.” It is not an exhaustive list, but the rule limits the coverage only to those authorized by law or the Rules of Court.11

These requirements should apply even in cases involving the environment, which means that for the Petition of the human petitioners to prosper, they must show that (a) the Resident Marine Mammals are real parties in interest; and (b) that the human petitioners are authorized by law or the Rules to act in a representative capacity.

The Resident Marine Mammals are comprised of “toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species inhabiting Tañon Strait.”12 While relatively new in Philippine jurisdiction, the issue of whether animals have legal standing before courts has been the subject of academic discourse in light of the emergence of animal and environmental rights.

In the United States, anim4l rights advocates have managed to establish a system which Hogan explains as the “guardianship model for nonhuman animals”:13

Despite Animal Lovers, there exists a well-established system by which nonhuman animals may obtain judicial review to enforce their statutory rights and protections: guardianships. With court approval, animal advocacy organizations may bring suit on behalf of nonhuman animals in the same way court-appointed guardians bring suit on behalf of mentally-challenged humans who possess an enforceable right but lack the ability to enforce it themselves.

In the controversial but pivotal Should Trees Have Standing?-Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects, Christopher D. Stone asserts that the environment should possess the right to seek judicial redress even though it is incapable of representing itself. While asserting the rights of

speechless entities such as the environment or nonhuman animals certainly poses legitimate challenges – such as identifying the proper spokesman -the American legal system is already well-equipped with a reliable mechanism by which nonhumans may obtain standing via a judicially established guardianship. Stone notes that other speechless – and nonhuman – entities such as corporations, states, estates, and municipalities have standing to bring suit on their own behalf. There is little reason to fear abuses under this regime as procedures for removal and substitution, avoiding conflicts of interest, and termination of a guardianship are well established.

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The court indicated that AL VA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established history of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might have had standing as well. The court further concluded that an organization’s standing is more than a derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-established prior to commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court’s analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.

This Comment advocates a shift in contemporary standing doctrine to empower non-profit organizations with an established history of dedication to the cause and relevant expertise to serve as official guardians ad !item on behalf of nonhuman animals interests. The American legal system has numerous mechanisms for representing the rights and interests of nonhumans; any challenges inherent in extending these pre-existing mechanisms to nonhuman animals are minimal compared to an interest in the proper administration of justice. To adequately protect the statutory rights of nonhuman animals, the legal system must recognize those statutory rights independent of humans and provide a viable means of enforcement. Moreover, the idea of a guardianship for speechless plaintiffs is not new and has been urged on behalf of the natural environment. ‘Such a model is even more compelling as applied to nonhuman animals, because they are sentient beings with the ability to feel pain and exercise rational thought. Thus, animals are qualitatively different from other legally protected nonhumans and therefore have interests deserving direct legal protection.

Furthermore, the difficulty of enforcing the statutory rights of nonhuman animals threatens the integrity of the federal statutes designed to protect them, essentially rendering them meaningless. Sensing that laws protecting nonhuman animals would be difficult to enforce, Congress provided for citizen suit provisions: the most well-known example is found in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Such provisions are evidence of legislative intent to encourage civic participation on behalf of nonhuman animals. Our law of standing should reflect this intent and its implication that humans are suitable representatives of the natural environment, which includes nonhuman animals.14 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)

When a court allows guardianship as a basis of representation, animals are considered as similarly situated as individuals who have enforceable rights but, for a legitimate reason (e.g., cognitive disability), are unable to bring suit for themselves. They are also similar to entities that by their very nature are incapable of speaking for themselves (e.g., corporations, states, and others).

In our jurisdiction, persons and entities are recognized both in law and the Rules of Court as having standing to sue and, therefore, may be properly represented as real parties in interest. The same cannot be said about animals.

Animals play an important role in households, communities, and the environment. While we, as humans, may feel the need to nurture and protect them, we cannot go as far as saying we represent their best interests and can, therefore, speak for them before the courts. As humans, we cannot be so arrogant as to argue that we know the suffering of animals and that we know what remedy they need in the face of an injury.

Even in Hogan’s discussion, she points out that in a case before the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass’n v. Weinberger,15 the court held that an emotional response to what humans perceive to be an injury inflicted on an animal is not within the “zone-of-interest” protected by law.16Such sympathy cannot stand independent of or as a substitute for an actual injury suffered by the claimant.17 The ability to represent animals was further limited in that case by the need to prove “genuine dedication” to asserting and protecting animal rights:

What ultimately proved fatal to ALVA ‘s claim, however, was the court’s assertion that standing doctrine further required ALVA to differentiate its genuine dedication to the humane treatment of animals from the general disdain for animal cruelty shared by the public at large. In doing so, the court found ALVA ‘s asserted organizational injury to be abstract and thus relegated ALVA to the ranks of the “concerned bystander. “

. . . .

In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement is indeed possible. The court indicated that ALVA might have obtained standing in its own right if it had an established history of dedication to the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known advocacy organization might have had standing as well. The court further concluded that an organization’s standing is more than a derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where organizations are not well-established prior to commencing legal action. ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to the dispute independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court’s analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a demonstrated commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.18 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)

What may be argued as being parallel to this concept of guardianship is the principle of human stewardship over the environment in a citizen suit under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. A citizen suit allows any Filipino to act as a representative of a party who has enforceable rights under environmental laws before Philippine courts, and is defined in Section 5: .

SEC. 5. Citizen suit. – Any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, may file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in the case within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish all affected barangays copies of said order.

There is no valid reason in law or the practical requirements of this case to implead and feign representation on behalf of animals. To have done so betrays a very anthropocentric view of environmental advocacy. There is no way that we, humans, can claim to speak for animals let alone present that they would wish to use our court system, which is designed to ensure that humans seriously carry their responsibility including ensuring a viable ecology for themselves, which of course includes compassion for all living things.

Our rules on standing are sufficient and need not be further relaxed.

In Arigo v. Swift,19 I posed the possibility of further reviewing the broad interpretation we have given to the rule on standing. While representatives are not required to establish direct injury on their part, they should only be allowed to represent after complying with the following: [I]t is imperative for them to indicate with certainty the injured parties on whose behalf they bring the suit. Furthermore, the interest of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal rights. It is not sufficient to draw out a perceived interest from a general, nebulous idea of a potential “injury.”20

I reiterate my position in Arigo v. Swift and in Paje v. Casiño21 regarding this rule alongside the appreciation of legal standing in Oposa v. Factoran22 for environmental cases. In Arigo, I opined that procedural liberality, especially in cases brought by representatives, should be used with great caution:

Perhaps it is time to revisit the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran.

That case was significant in that, at that time, there was need to call attention to environmental concerns in light of emerging international legal principles. While “intergenerational responsibility” is a noble principle, it should not be used to obtain judgments that would preclude future generations from making their own assessment based on their actual concerns. The present generation must restrain itself from assuming that it can speak best for those who will exist at a different time, under a different set of circumstances. In essence, the unbridled resort to representative suit will inevitably result in preventing future generations from protecting their own rights and pursuing their own interests and decisions. It reduces the autonomy of our children and our children ‘s children. Even before they are born, we again restricted their ability to make their own arguments.

It is my opinion that, at best, the use of the Oposa doctrine in environmental cases should be allowed only when a) there is a clear legal basis for the representative suit; b) there are actual concerns based squarely upon an existing legal right; c) there is no possibility of any countervailing interests existing within the population represented or those that are yet to be born; and d) there is an absolute necessity for such standing because there is a threat of catastrophe so imminent that an immediate protective measure is necessary. Better still, in the light of its costs and risks, we abandon the precedent all together.23 (Emphasis in the original)

Similarly, in Paje:

A person cannot invoke the court’s jurisdiction if he or she has no right or interest to protect. He or she who invokes the court’s jurisdiction must be the “owner of the right sought to be enforced.” In other words, he or she must have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on the ground of lack of cause of action if the person who instituted it is not the real party in interest.24 The term “interest” under the Rules of Court must refer to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity about or an “interest in the question involved.” The interest must be present and substantial. It is not a mere expectancy or a future, contingent interest.

A person who is not a real party in interest may institute an action if he or she is suing as representative of a .real party in interest. When an action is prosecuted or defended by a representative, that representative is not and does not become the real party in interest. The person represented is deemed the real party in interest. The representative remains to be a third party to the action instituted on behalf of another.

. . . .

To sue under this rule, two elements must be present: “(a) the suit is brought on behalf of an identified party whose right has been violated, resulting in some form of damage, and (b) the representative authorized by law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim.”

The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a citizen’s suit. A citizen’s suit under this rule allows any Filipino citizen to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law on behalf of minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit that allows persons who are not real parties in interest to institute actions on behalf of the real party in interest.

The expansion of what constitutes “real party in interest” to include minors and generations yet unborn is a recognition of this court’s ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. This court recognized the capacity of minors (represented by their parents) to file a class suit on behalf of succeeding generations based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility to ensure the future generation’s access to and enjoyment of [the] country’s natural resources.

To allow citizen’s suits to enforce environmental rights of others, including future generations, is dangerous for three reasons:

First, they run the risk of foreclosing arguments of others who are unable to take part in the suit, putting into. question its representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in arguments that are bordering on political issues, the resolutions of which do not fall upon this court. Third, automatically allowing a class or citizen’s suit on behalf of minors and generations yet unborn may result in the oversimplification of what may be a complex issue, especially in light of the impossibility of determining future generation’s true interests on the matter.

In citizen’s suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may file suits for others. Uninterested persons will argue for the persons they represent, and the court will decide based on their evidence and arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the beneficiaries, which in this case are the minors and the future generations. The court’s decision will be res judicata upon them and conclusive upon the issues presented.25

The danger in invoking Oposa v. Factoran to justify all kinds of environmental claims lies in its potential to diminish the value of legitimate environmental rights. Extending the application of “real party in interest” to the Resident Marine Mammals, or animals in general, through a judicial pronouncement will potentially result in allowing petitions based on mere concern rather than an actual enforcement of a right. It is impossible for animals to tell humans what their concerns are. At best, humans can only surmise the extent of injury inflicted, if there be any. Petitions invoking a right and seeking legal redress before this court cannot be a product of guesswork, and representatives have the responsibility to ensure that they bring “reasonably cogent, rational, scientific, well-founded arguments”26 on behalf of those they represent.

Creative approaches to fundamental problems should be welcome. However, they should be considered carefully so that no unintended or unwarranted consequences should follow. I concur with the approach of Madame Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro in her brilliant ponencia as it carefully narrows down the doctrine in terms of standing. Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners have no legal standing to file any kind of petition.

However, I agree that petitioners in G.R. No. 181527, namely, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center,. Engarcial, Yanong, and Labid, have standing both as real parties in interest and as representatives of subsistence fisherfolks of the Municipalities of Aloguinsan and Pinamungahan, Cebu, and their families, and the present and future generations of Filipinos whose rights are similarly affected. The activities undertaken under Service Contract 46 (SC-46) directly affected their source of livelihood, primarily felt through the significant reduction of their fish harvest.27 The actual, direct, and material damage they suffered, which has potential long-term effects transcending generations, is a proper subject of a legal suit.

III

In our jurisdiction, there is neither reason nor any legal basis for the concept of implied petitioners, most especially when the implied petitioner was a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines. In G.R. No. 180771, apart from adjudicating unto themselves the status of “legal guardians” of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species, human petitioners also impleaded Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as “unwilling co-petitioner” for “her express declaration and undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect Tañon Strait.”28

No person may implead any other person as a co-plaintiff or co-petitioner without his or her consent. In our jurisdiction, only when there is a party that should have been a necessary party but was unwilling to join would there be an allegation as to why that party has been omitted. In Rule 3, Section 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. -Whenever in any pleading in which a claim is asserted a necessary party is not joined, the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall state why he is omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission unmeritorious, it may order the inclusion of the omitted necessary party if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained.

The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without justifiable cause, shall be deemed a waiver of the claim against such party.

The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from proceeding in the action, and the judgment rendered therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party.29

A party who should have been a plaintiff or petitioner but whose consent cannot be obtained should be impleaded as a defendant in the nature of an unwilling co-plaintiff under Rule 3, Section 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:

SEC. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. – If the consent of any party who should be joined as plaintiff can not be obtained, he may be made a defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint.30

The reason for this rule is plain: Indispensable party plaintiffs who should be part of the action but who do not consent should be put within the jurisdiction of the court through summons or other court processes. Petitioners. should not take it upon themselves to simply imp lead any party who does not consent as a petitioner. This places the unwilling co-petitioner at the risk of being denied due process.

Besides, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be a party to this suit. As a co-equal constitutional department, we cannot assume that the President needs to enforce policy directions by suing his or her alter-egos. The procedural situation caused by petitioners may have gained public attention, but its legal absurdity borders on the contemptuous. The Former President’s name should be stricken out of the title of this case.

IV

I also concur with the conclusion that SC-46 is both. illegal and unconstitutional.

SC-46 is illegal because it violates Republic Act No. ·7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, and Presidential Decree No. 1234,31 which declared Tañon Strait as a protected seascape. It is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth paragraph of Article XII, Section 2 of the Constitution.

V

Petitioner Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center asserts that SC-46 violated Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 1 of the .1987 Constitution because Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX) is 100% Japanese-owned.32 It further asserts that SC-46 cannot be validly classified as a technical and financial assistance agreement executed under Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 4 of the 1987 Constitution.33 Public respondents counter that SC-46 does not fall under the coverage of paragraph 1, but is a validly executed contract under paragraph 4.34· Public respondents further aver that SC-46 neither granted exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX nor violated Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center’s right to preferential use of communal marine and fishing resources.35

VI

Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states:

Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception. of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.

The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution. (Emphasis supplied)

I agree that fully foreign-owned corporations may participate in the exploration, development, and use of natural resources, but only through either financial agreements or technical ones. This is the clear import of the words “either financial or technical assistance agreements.” This is also

the clear result if we compare the 1987 constitutional provision with the versions in the 1973 and 1935 Constitution:

1973 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIV
THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND THE PATRIMONY OF THE NATION

SEC. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, of exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources of the Philippines shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or association at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens. The Batasang Pambansa, in the national interest, may allow such citizens, corporations, or associations to enter into service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any foreign person or entity for the exploitation, development, exploitation, or utilization of any of the natural resources. Existing valid and binding service contracts for financial, the technical, management, or other forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such. (Emphasis supplied)

1935 CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIII
CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES

SECTION 1. All agricultural timber, and mineral. lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.

The clear text of the Constitution in light of its history prevails over any attempt to infer interpretation from the Constitutional Commission deliberations. The constitutional texts are the product of a full sovereign act: deliberations in a constituent assembly and ratification. Reliance on recorded discussion of Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand, may result in dependence on incomplete authorship; Besides, it opens judicial review to further subjectivity from those who spoke during the Constitutional Commission deliberations who may not have predicted how their words will be used. It is safer that we use the words already in the Constitution. The Constitution was their product. Its words were read by those who ratified it. The Constitution is what society relies upon even at present.

SC-46 is neither a financial assistance nor a technical assistance agreement.

Even supposing for the sake of argument that it is, it could not be declared valid in light of the standards set forth in La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos:36

Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils. The grant thereof is subject to several safeguards, among which are these requirements:

(1) The service contract shall be crafted m accordance with a general law that will set standard or uniform terms, conditions and requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions and avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the country.

(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, supposedly before an agreement is presented to the President for signature, it will have been vetted several times over at different levels to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny.

(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall report it to Congress to give that branch of government an opportunity to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if any.37(Emphasis in the original, citation omitted)

Based on the standards pronounced in La Bugal, SC-46′ S validity must be tested against three important points: (a) whether SC-46 was crafted in accordance with a general law that provides standards, terms, and conditions; (b) whether SC-46 was signed by the President for and on behalf of the government; and (c) whether it was reported by the President to Congress within 30 days of execution.

VII

The general law referred to as a possible basis for SC-46’s validity is Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972.1âwphi1 It is my opinion that this law is unconstitutional in that it allows service contracts, contrary to Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution:

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources. (Emphasis supplied)

The deletion of service contracts from the enumeration of the kind of agreements the President may enter into with foreign-owned corporations for exploration and utilization of resources means that service contracts are no longer allowed by the Constitution. Pursuant to Article XVIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution,38 this inconsistency renders the law invalid and ineffective.

SC-46 suffers from the lack of a special law allowing its activities. The Main Opinion emphasizes an important point, which is that SC-46 did not merely involve exploratory activities, but also provided the rights and obligations of the parties should it be discovered that there is oil in commercial quantities in the area. The Tañon Strait being a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 123439 requires that the exploitation and utilization of energy resources from that area are explicitly covered by a law passed by Congress specifically for that purpose, pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992:

SEC. 14. Survey for Energy R6’sources. – Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof, protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy resources found within NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by Congress.40 (Emphasis supplied)

No law was passed by Congress specifically providing the standards, terms, and conditions of an oil exploration, extraction, and/or utilization for Tañon Strait and, therefore, no such activities could have been validly undertaken under SC-46. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 is clear that exploitation and utilization of energy resources in a protected seascape such as Tañon Strait shall only be allowed through a specific law.

VIII

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the signatory to SC-46, contrary to the requirement set by paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2 for service contracts involving the exploration of petroleum. SC-46 was entered into by then Department of Energy Secretary Vicente S. Perez, Jr., on behalf of the government. I agree with the Main Opinion that in cases where the Constitution or law requires the President to act personally on the matter, the duty cannot be delegated to another public official.41 La Bugal highlights the importance of the President’s involvement, being one of the constitutional safeguards against abuse and corruption, as not mere formality:

At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful reading of the ConCom deliberations, as follows:

• In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers used the term service contracts in referring to agreements x x x involving either technical or financial assistance. • They spoke of service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Constitution.

• It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban or eradicate service contracts.

• Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to. put in place safeguards that would eliminate or m minimize the abuses prevalent during the marital law regime.42 (Emphasis in the original)

Public respondents failed to show that. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was involved in the signing or execution of SC-46. The failure to comply with this constitutional requirement renders SC-46 null and void.

IX

Public respondents also failed to show that Congress was subsequently informed of the execution and existence of SC-46. The reporting requirement is an equally important requisite to the validity of any service contract involving the exploration, development, and utilization of Philippine petroleum. Public respondents’ failure to report to Congress about SC-46 effectively took away any opportunity for the legislative branch to scrutinize its terms and conditions.

In sum, SC-46 was executed and implemented absent all the requirements provided under paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2. It is, therefore, null and void.

X

I am of the view that SC-46, aside from not having complied with the 1987 Constitution, is also null and void for being violative of environmental laws protecting Tañon Strait. In particular, SC-46 was implemented despite falling short of the requirements of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.

As a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234,43 Tañon Strait is covered by the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992. This law declares as a matter of policy:

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. Cognizant of the profound impact of man’s activities on all components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment notably on areas with biologically unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby declared the policy of the State to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution.

It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, possess common ecological values that may be incorporated into a holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that effective administration of these areas is possible only through cooperation among national government, local and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development.

To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which shall encompass outstanding remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which shall be designated as “protected areas.”44 (Emphasis supplied)

Pursuant to this law, any proposed activity in Tañon Strait must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment:

SEC. 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. – Proposals for activities which are outside the scope of the management plan for protected areas shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment as required by law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into consideration in the decision-making process.45 (Emphasis supplied)

The same provision further requires that an Environmental Compliance Certificate be secured under the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System before arty project is implemented:

No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In instances where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall plan and carry them out in such manner as will minimize any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial action when appropriate. The proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion.46 (Emphasis supplied)

In projects involving the exploration or utilization of energy resources, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 additionally requires that a program be approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which shall be publicly accessible. The program shall also be submitted to the President, who in turn will recommend the program to Congress. Furthermore, Congress must enact a law specifically allowing the exploitation of energy resources found within a protected area such as Tañon Strait:

SEC. 14. Survey for Energy Resources. – Consistent with the policies declared in Section 2, hereof, protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas. Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program approved by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to the public and submitted to the President for recommendation to Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy resources found within NIPAS areas shall be allowed only through a taw passed by Congress.47 (Emphasis supplied)

Public respondents argue that SC-46 complied with the procedural requirements of obtaining an Environmental Compliance Certificate.48 At any rate, they assert that the activities covered by SC-46 fell under Section 14 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, which they interpret to be an exception to Section 12. They argue that the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not a strict requirement for the validity of SC-46 since (a) the Tañon Strait is not a nature’ reserve or natural park; (b) the exploration was merely for gathering information; and ( c) measures were in place to ensure that the exploration caused the least possible damage to the area.49

Section 14 is not an exception to Section 12, but instead provides additional requirements for cases involving Philippine energy resources. The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 was enacted to recognize the importance of protecting the environment in light of resource exploitation, among others.50 Systems are put in place to secure for Filipinos local resources under the most favorable conditions. With the status of Tañon Strait as a protected seascape, the institution of additional legal safeguards is even more significant.

Public respondents did not validly obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate for SC-46. Based on the records, JAPEX commissioned an environmental impact evaluation only in the second subphase of its project, with the Environmental Management .Bureau of Region

VII granting the project an Environmental Compliance Certificate on March 6, 2007.51

Despite its scale, the seismic surveys from May 9 to 18, 2005 were conducted without any environmental assessment contrary to Section 12 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.

XI

Finally, we honor every living creature when we take care of our environment. As sentient species, we do not lack in the wisdom or sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use to survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that is slowly causing the demise of our planet. Thus, there is no need for us to feign representation of any other species or some imagined unborn generation in filing any action in our courts of law to claim any of our fundamental rights to a healthful ecology. In this way and with candor and courage, we fully shoulder the responsibility deserving of the grace and power endowed on our species.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote:

(a) to DISMISS G.R. No. 180771 for lack of standing and STRIKE OUT the name of Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the title of this case;

(b) to GRANT G.R. No. 181527; and

(c) to DECLARE SERVICE CONTRACT 46 NULL AND VOID for violating the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 7586, and Presidential Decree No. 1234.

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice

 

Footnotes

1 Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 7-8.

2 G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792 [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

3 Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 16.

4 Rollo (G.R. No. 180771), p. 123-124.

5 Id. at 196.

6 1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 2.

7 See Consumido v. Ros, 555 Phil. 652, 658 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].

8 Rebollido v. Court of Appeals, 252 Phil. 831, 839 (1989) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division], citing Lee et al. v. Romillo, Jr., 244 Phil. 606, 612 ( 1988) [Per J. Gutierrez, Jr., Third Division].

9 1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 3.

10 Ang, represented by Aceron v. Spouses Ang, G.R. No. 186993, August 22, 2012, 678 SCRA 699, 709 [Per J. Reyes, Second Division]. ·

11 1997 RULESOFCIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 3.

12 Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 8.

13 Marguerite Hogan, Standing for Nonhuman Animals: Developing a Guardianship Model from the Dissents in Sierra Club v. Morton, 95 CAL. L. REV. 513 (2007)

<http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/califomialawreview/vol95/iss2/4&gt; (visited March 15, 2015).

14 Id. at 517-519.

15 Id. at 513-514. Footnote 1 of Marguerite Hogan’s article cites this case as Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass’n v. Weinberger, 765 F.2d 937, 938 (9th Cir., 1985).

16 In that case, the claim was based on a law called “National Environmental Policy Act.”

17 Marguerite Hogan, Standing for Nonhuman Animals: Developing a Guardianship Model from the Dissents in Sierra. Club v. Morton, 95 CAL. L. REV. 513, 514 (2007) <http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/califomialawreview/vol95/iss2/4&gt; (visited March 15, 2015).

18 Id. at 515, 518.

19 J. Leonen, Concurring Opinion in Arigo v. Swift, G.R No. 206510, September 14, 2014

<http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2014/september2014/206510 _ leonen.pdf> [Per J. Villarama, Jr., En Banc].

20 Id. at 11.

21 J. Leanen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3, 2015 <http://sc.judiciary.gov .ph/pdf/web/viewer.htm l?fi!e=/jurisprudence/2015/february2015/207257_leonen.pdf> [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc].

22 G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792, 803 [Per J. Davide, Jr., En Banc].

23 J. Leanen, Concurring Opinion in Arigo v. Swift, G.R No. 206510, September 14, 2014, 13 <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/2014/september:iO 14/206510 _leonen.pdf> [Per J. Villarama, Jr., En Banc].

24 J. Leanen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3, 2015 <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/20l5/february2015/207257 _ leonen.pdf> [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc]. See also De Leon v. Court of Appeals, 343 Phil. 254, 265 (1997) [Per J. Davide, Jr., Third Division], citing Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phil. 875, 900-902 (1996) [Per J. Regalado, En Banc].

25 J. Leonen, Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in Paje v. Casino, G.R. No. 205257, February 3, 2015, 3-5 <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/pdf/web/viewer.html?file=/jurisprudence/20l5/february2015/207257_leonen.pdt&gt; [Per J. Del Castillo, En Banc].

26 Id. at 7.

27 Rollo (G.RNo.180771), p.12.

28 Id. at 8.

29 1997 RULES OF CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 9.

30 1997 RULES OP CIV. PROC., Rule 3, sec. 10. e 31

31 Declaring the Tañon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

32 Rollo (G.R No. 181527), p. 26.

33 Id. at 26-28.

34 Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 81-83.

35 Id.

36 486 Phil. 754 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, En Banc].

37 Id. at 815.

38 Section 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked.

39 Declaring the Tañon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

40 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 14.

41 See Jason v. Executive Secretary Ruber Torres, 352 Phil. 888 (1998) [Per J. Puno, Second Division].

42 a Bugal-B’laan Tribal.Association, Inc. v. Ramos, 486 Phil. 754, 813-814 (2004) [Per J. Panganiban, En Banc].

43 Declaring the Tañon Strait Situated in the Provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental as a Protected Area Pursuant to R.A. 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) and Shall be Known as Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, May 27, 1998.

44 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 2.

45 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 12.

46 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 12.

47 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 14.

48 Rollo (G.R No. 180771), p. 91-92.

49 Id. at 85.

50 Rep. Act No. 7856 (1992), sec. 2.

51 Rollo (G.R No. 181527), p. 58-59.

Oposa v. Factoran

On the right of minors and generations yet to be born to balance and healthful ecology

G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993

JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and represented by their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed FLORES, minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor, represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor, represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor, represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA DESAMPARADO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC.,
petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.

Oposa Law Office for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

 

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of “inter-generational responsibility” and “inter-generational justice.” Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to “prevent the misappropriation or impairment” of Philippine rainforests and “arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country’s vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth.”

The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources. The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The complaint 2 was instituted as a taxpayers’ class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs “are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country’s virgin tropical forests.” The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are “so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court.” The minors further asseverate that they “represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn.” 4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered:

. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to —

(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;

(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements.

and granting the plaintiffs “. . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises.” 5

The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured and flourished since time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology, the country’s land area should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies, such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the “aquifer,” as well as of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt water, incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c) massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil eroded estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum — approximately the size of the entire island of Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country’s unique, rare and varied flora and fauna, (e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino’s indigenous cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbreakers, (i) the floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and operated for the purpose of supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth’s capacity to process carbon dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the “greenhouse effect.”

Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation are so capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.

As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:

CAUSE OF ACTION

7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.

8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests constituting roughly 53% of the country’s land mass.

9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said rainforests or four per cent (4.0%) of the country’s land area.

10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left, barely 2.8% of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of immature and uneconomical secondary growth forests.

11. Public records reveal that the defendant’s, predecessors have granted timber license agreements (‘TLA’s’) to various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging purposes.

A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex “A”.

12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour — nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included — the Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after the end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.

13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this continued trend of deforestation to the plaintiff minor’s generation and to generations yet unborn are evident and incontrovertible. As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are already being felt, experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults.

14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest stands will work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs — especially plaintiff minors and their successors — who may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource treasure.

This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource property he holds in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.

15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.

16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant’s office. On March 2, 1990, plaintiffs served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country.

A copy of the plaintiffs’ letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex “B”.

17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA’s to the continuing serious damage and extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.

18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA’s is an act violative of the rights of plaintiffs, especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren and devoid of the wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had been abundantly blessed with.

19. Defendant’s refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA’s is manifestly contrary to the public policy enunciated in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of the State —

(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other;

(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos and;

(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well-being. (P.D. 1151, 6 June 1977)

20. Furthermore, defendant’s continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA’s is contradictory to the Constitutional policy of the State to —

a. effect “a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth” and “make full and efficient use of natural resources (sic).” (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);

b. “protect the nation’s marine wealth.” (Section 2, ibid);

c. “conserve and promote the nation’s cultural heritage and resources (sic)” (Section 14, Article XIV, id.);

d. “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” (Section 16, Article II, id.)

21. Finally, defendant’s act is contrary to the highest law of humankind — the natural law — and violative of plaintiffs’ right to self-preservation and perpetuation.

22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country’s vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth. 6

On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of Government. In their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it involves the defendant’s abuse of discretion.

On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In the said order, not only was the defendant’s claim — that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a political question — sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.

Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and ask this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but have also joined the latter in this case. 8

On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the petitioners filed a reply thereto.

Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept of man’s inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely on the respondent’s correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people’s right to a healthful environment.

It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary’s alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting Timber License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial question.

Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution’s non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain that the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs may be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the State when the public interest so requires.

On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the complaint but vague and nebulous allegations concerning an “environmental right” which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the “protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae.” Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid cause of action. They then reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the country is a political question which should be properly addressed to the executive or legislative branches of Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners’ resources is not to file an action to court, but to lobby before Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.

As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the State without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time — usually for twenty-five (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and regulations. Petitioners’ proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing would be violative of the requirements of due process.

Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 90-777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue with this matter. Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the complaint is of common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an incident to the former.

This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers
the “rhythm and harmony of nature.” Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10 Needless to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors’ assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to come.

The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the petition.

After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the respondent Judge’s challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and protect, or a specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC). Furthermore, the Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint against the herein defendant.

Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing violence to the sacred principle of “Separation of Powers” of the three (3) co-equal branches of the Government.

The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to “impairment of contracts” abhored (sic) by the fundamental law. 11

We do not agree with the trial court’s conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these conclusions.

The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation’s constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:

Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article:

Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation — aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners — the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come — generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.

The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who sponsored the section in question:

MR. VILLACORTA:

Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution — air, water and noise pollution?

MR. AZCUNA:

Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the correlative duty of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for impairment of environmental balance. 12

The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the country’s forests.

Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.

Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and utilization of the country’s natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of which expressly mandates that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources “shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos.” Section 3 thereof makes the following statement of policy:

Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable use, development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas and other natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the environment, and equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and the use of the country’s natural resources, not only for the present generation but for future generations as well. It is also the policy of the state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and environmental cost implications relative to their utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources.

This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, 15specifically in Section 1 thereof which reads:

Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. — (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the full exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the country’s forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the exploration, development and utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as future generations.

(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social and environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources.

The above provision stresses “the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment.” Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular reference to the fact of the agency’s being subject to law and higher authority. Said section provides:

Sec. 2. Mandate. — (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.

(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State’s constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country’s natural resources.

Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR.

It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes already paid special attention to the “environmental right” of the present and future generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former “declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being.” 16 As its goal, it speaks of the “responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding generations.” 17 The latter statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.

Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the DENR’s duty — under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 — to protect and advance the said right.

A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted.

A cause of action is defined as:

. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right. 18

It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary should “exercise the utmost care and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute.”

After careful examination of the petitioners’ complaint, We find the statements under the introductory affirmative allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be granted, wholly or partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned, there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.

The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy formulation or determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in issue. What is principally involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and expressed in legislation. It must, nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that:

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.

Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished member of this Court, says:

The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.

As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The catch, of course, is the meaning of “grave abuse of discretion,” which is a very elastic phrase that can expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.

In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:

In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the Constitution clearly provides: . . .

The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:

The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to “impairment of contracts” abhored (sic) by the fundamental law. 24

We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping pronouncement. In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his motion to dismiss the non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the Government by providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber license holders because he would have forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:

. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .

Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court held:

. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this case.

A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).

We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26

. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].

Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:

Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27

cannot be invoked.

In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the non-impairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler
Corp
. 28 this Court stated:

The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is understood to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare.

The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, 30 to wit:

Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of private and not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will use his property to the detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.

In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31

Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with respect to the prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover, with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a matter of right.

WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged Order of respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The petitioners may therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license agreements.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur.

Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.

Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring

I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.

The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners’ claim that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the concept of “class” here involved — membership in this “class” appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the
future — it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries’ right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such beneficiaries’ right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown (“prior exhaustion of administrative remedies”), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an appropriate case.

The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon “one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology” (Decision, p. 14). There is no question that “the right to a balanced and healthful ecology” is “fundamental” and that, accordingly, it has been “constitutionalized.” But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that it cannot be characterized as “specific,” without doing excessive violence to language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character than a right to “a balanced and healthful ecology.” The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June 1977 — all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 (“the right — to a balanced and healthful ecology”) and 15 (“the right to health”).

P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled “The Philippine Environment Code,” is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more “specific environment management policies” and “environment quality standards” (fourth “Whereas” clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics:

(a) air quality management;

(b) water quality management;

(c) land use management;

(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:

(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;

(ii) wild life;

(iii) forestry and soil conservation;

(iv) flood control and natural calamities;

(v) energy development;

(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water

(vii) mineral resources

Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code.

As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners’ cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.

My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right — a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution — that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss.

It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.

The second is a broader-gauge consideration — where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads:

Section 1. . . .

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied)

When substantive standards as general as “the right to a balanced and healthy ecology” and “the right to health” are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as “a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,” the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments — the legislative and executive departments — must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.

My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession agreements or TLA’s petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners’ entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners’ specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.

I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the Court’s decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.

# Separate Opinions

FELICIANO, J., concurring

I join in the result reached by my distinguished brother in the Court, Davide, Jr., J., in this case which, to my mind, is one of the most important cases decided by this Court in the last few years. The seminal principles laid down in this decision are likely to influence profoundly the direction and course of the protection and management of the environment, which of course embraces the utilization of all the natural resources in the territorial base of our polity. I have therefore sought to clarify, basically to myself, what the Court appears to be saying.

The Court explicitly states that petitioners have the locus standi necessary to sustain the bringing and, maintenance of this suit (Decision, pp. 11-12). Locus standi is not a function of petitioners’ claim that their suit is properly regarded as a class suit. I understand locus standi to refer to the legal interest which a plaintiff must have in the subject matter of the suit. Because of the very broadness of the concept of “class” here involved — membership in this “class” appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the
future — it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefit from the course of action petitioners seek to require public respondents to take, is vested with the necessary locus standi. The Court may be seen therefore to be recognizing a beneficiaries’ right of action in the field of environmental protection, as against both the public administrative agency directly concerned and the private persons or entities operating in the field or sector of activity involved. Whether such beneficiaries’ right of action may be found under any and all circumstances, or whether some failure to act, in the first instance, on the part of the governmental agency concerned must be shown (“prior exhaustion of administrative remedies”), is not discussed in the decision and presumably is left for future determination in an appropriate case.

The Court has also declared that the complaint has alleged and focused upon “one specific fundamental legal right — the right to a balanced and healthful ecology” (Decision, p. 14). There is no question that “the right to a balanced and healthful ecology” is “fundamental” and that, accordingly, it has been “constitutionalized.” But although it is fundamental in character, I suggest, with very great respect, that it cannot be characterized as “specific,” without doing excessive violence to language. It is in fact very difficult to fashion language more comprehensive in scope and generalized in character than a right to “a balanced and healthful ecology.” The list of particular claims which can be subsumed under this rubic appears to be entirely open-ended: prevention and control of emission of toxic fumes and smoke from factories and motor vehicles; of discharge of oil, chemical effluents, garbage and raw sewage into rivers, inland and coastal waters by vessels, oil rigs, factories, mines and whole communities; of dumping of organic and inorganic wastes on open land, streets and thoroughfares; failure to rehabilitate land after strip-mining or open-pit mining; kaingin or slash-and-burn farming; destruction of fisheries, coral reefs and other living sea resources through the use of dynamite or cyanide and other chemicals; contamination of ground water resources; loss of certain species of fauna and flora; and so on. The other statements pointed out by the Court: Section 3, Executive Order No. 192 dated 10 June 1987; Section 1, Title XIV, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code; and P.D. No. 1151, dated 6 June 1977 — all appear to be formulations of policy, as general and abstract as the constitutional statements of basic policy in Article II, Section 16 (“the right — to a balanced and healthful ecology”) and 15 (“the right to health”).

P.D. No. 1152, also dated 6 June 1977, entitled “The Philippine Environment Code,” is, upon the other hand, a compendious collection of more “specific environment management policies” and “environment quality standards” (fourth “Whereas” clause, Preamble) relating to an extremely wide range of topics:

(a) air quality management;

(b) water quality management;

(c) land use management;

(d) natural resources management and conservation embracing:

(i) fisheries and aquatic resources;

(ii) wild life;

(iii) forestry and soil conservation;

(iv) flood control and natural calamities;

(v) energy development;

(vi) conservation and utilization of surface and ground water

(vii) mineral resources

Two (2) points are worth making in this connection. Firstly, neither petitioners nor the Court has identified the particular provision or provisions (if any) of the Philippine Environment Code which give rise to a specific legal right which petitioners are seeking to enforce. Secondly, the Philippine Environment Code identifies with notable care the particular government agency charged with the formulation and implementation of guidelines and programs dealing with each of the headings and sub-headings mentioned above. The Philippine Environment Code does not, in other words, appear to contemplate action on the part of private persons who are beneficiaries of implementation of that Code.

As a matter of logic, by finding petitioners’ cause of action as anchored on a legal right comprised in the constitutional statements above noted, the Court is in effect saying that Section 15 (and Section 16) of Article II of the Constitution are self-executing and judicially enforceable even in their present form. The implications of this doctrine will have to be explored in future cases; those implications are too large and far-reaching in nature even to be hinted at here.

My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal right — a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of the Constitution — that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the Court should be understood as simply saying that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss.

It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this matter.

The second is a broader-gauge consideration — where a specific violation of law or applicable regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution which reads:

Section 1. . . .

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphasis supplied)

When substantive standards as general as “the right to a balanced and healthy ecology” and “the right to health” are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as “a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,” the result will be, it is respectfully submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making departments — the legislative and executive departments — must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them before the courts should intervene.

My learned brother Davide, Jr., J., rightly insists that the timber companies, whose concession agreements or TLA’s petitioners demand public respondents should cancel, must be impleaded in the proceedings below. It might be asked that, if petitioners’ entitlement to the relief demanded is not dependent upon proof of breach by the timber companies of one or more of the specific terms and conditions of their concession agreements (and this, petitioners implicitly assume), what will those companies litigate about? The answer I suggest is that they may seek to dispute the existence of the specific legal right petitioners should allege, as well as the reality of the claimed factual nexus between petitioners’ specific legal rights and the claimed wrongful acts or failures to act of public respondent administrative agency. They may also controvert the appropriateness of the remedy or remedies demanded by petitioners, under all the circumstances which exist.

I vote to grant the Petition for Certiorari because the protection of the environment, including the forest cover of our territory, is of extreme importance for the country. The doctrines set out in the Court’s decision issued today should, however, be subjected to closer examination.

# Footnotes

1 Rollo, 164; 186.

2 Id., 62-65, exclusive of annexes.

3 Under Section 12, Rule 3, Revised Rules of Court.

4 Rollo, 67.

5 Id., 74.

6 Rollo, 70-73.

7 Annex “B” of Petitions; Id., 43-44.

8 Paragraph 7, Petition, 6; Rollo, 20.

9 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, 1986, 1508.

10 Title XIV (Environment and Natural Resources), Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, E.O. No. 292.

11 Annex “B” of Petition; Rollo, 43-44.

12 Record of the Constitutional Commission, vol. 4, 913.

13 For instance, the Preamble and Article XII on the National Economy and Patrimony.

14 The Reorganization Act of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

15 E.O. No. 292.

16 Section 1.

17 Section 2.

18 Ma-ao Sugar Central Co. vs. Barrios, 79 Phil. 666 [1947]; Community Investment and Finance Corp. vs. Garcia, 88 Phil. 215 [1951]; Remitere vs. Vda. de Yulo, 16 SCRA 251 [1966]; Caseñas vs. Rosales, 19 SCRA 462 [1967]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayan, 202 SCRA 680 [1991]; Madrona vs. Rosal, 204 SCRA 1 [1991].

19 Section 1(q), Rule 16, Revised Rules of Court.

20 Adamos vs. J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. 25 SCRA 529 [1968]; Virata vs. Sandiganbayn, supra; Madrona vs. Rosal, supra.

21 39 SCRA 473, 479 [1971].

22 1991 ed., 226-227.

23 180 SCRA 496, 501-502 [1989]. See also, Coseteng vs. Mitra, 187 SCRA 377 [1990]; Gonzales vs. Macaraig, 191 SCRA 452 [1990]; Llamas vs. Orbos, 202 SCRA 844 [1991]; Bengzon vs. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA 767 [1991].

24 Rollo, 44.

25 125 SCRA 302, 325 [1983].

26 190 SCRA 673, 684 [1990].

27 Article III, 1987 Constitution.

28 110 Phil. 198, 203 [1960]; footnotes omitted.

29 291 U.S. 502, 523, 78 L. ed. 940, 947-949.

30 22 SCRA 135, 146-147 [1968].

31 Ongsiako vs. Gamboa, 86 Phil. 50 [1950]; Abe vs. Foster Wheeler Corp. supra.; Phil. American Life Insurance Co. vs. Auditor General, supra.; Alalayan vs. NPC, 24 SCRA 172[1968]; Victoriano vs. Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union, 59 SCRA 54 [1974]; Kabiling vs. National Housing Authority, 156 SCRA 623 [1987].